The three winning scripts will be presented at next month’s Colorado New Play Summit
Denver Center Education has announced the three winning plays for its seventh annual statewide AT&T High School Playwriting Competition, which this year drew 154 one-act plays for consideration from Colorado student writers.
The following plays will be presented together as a featured free event at next month’s 2020 Colorado New Play Summit:
- God’s Not Dead, He’s Just an Admissions Officer, by Brandon Guo, Peak to Peak Charter School
- Imminent and Disastrous, by Connor Yokley, Highlands Ranch High School
- Romeo and Julien, by Meghan Frey, Estes Park High School
After a week of in-house workshopping at the Denver Center with trained actors, educators and mentorship from both DCPA Teaching Artists and a professional playwright, the winning plays will have public readings at 9:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 22, in The Randy Weeks Conservatory Theatre. In addition, the three winning scripts each will have professional readings at their playwrights’ schools. The winning playwrights also will receive a $250 cash scholarship and complimentary passes to the Summit. In addition, each winner’s sponsoring teacher will receive $250 for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms.
The 2019-20 AT&T High School Playwriting Workshop served 3,152 students with DCPA teaching artists conducting 165 playwriting workshops in 21 counties statewide. The judges, made up of artistic, literary and education professionals, read each submission as a blind draw.
“We are so thrilled to support burgeoning playwrights and any opportunity to encourage amazing writers to put their authentic voices in the world,” said Allison Watrous, Executive Director of Education and Community Engagement. “These writers are the brave next generation of the American Theatre and beyond, grappling with issues of our times including identity, climate change and the future.”
The coordinator of the DCPA’s student playwriting program is 2017 True West Award winner Claudia Carson.
The chosen plays and playwrights at a glance:
(Listed alphabetically by title)
Brandon Guo, Peak to Peak Charter School
- Class: Senior
- Teacher: Kristie Letter
- Play title: God’s Not Dead, He’s Just an Admissions Officer
- Killer dialogue:
GOD: “You are a Christian, and so was your grandmother. In fact, almost 99 percent of our accepted people are legacy admits.”
- What did you learn from writing this play? I learned that the art of playwriting is one of unbelievable mental exhaustion. As I write, I sculpt a view of the broad stage, the delicate intricacies of the set and the exact positions of the actors in my mind. I learned that playwriting is an art of mental exploration, in which the winding turns of the mind pour onto a Google doc in the form of stage directions, emotional cues and dialogue lines. I learned to brainstorm, plan and execute my brilliantly chaotic idea. (And as a side note, I learned that play formatting is quite pesky.)
Connor Yokley, Highlands Ranch High School
- Class: Junior
- Teacher: Nicole Hudson
- Play title: Imminent and Disastrous
- Killer dialogue:
“Channel 7 recently got word that the … the, uh … the U.N. Climate Commission has declared … an urgent state. Of emergency. Eh… internationally.”
- What did you learn from writing this play? “The power of revisions. After I completed my first draft, some classmates performed a few of the scenes, and right away I began thinking, ‘Oh, I don’t like that.’ ‘Oh, I have to change that.’ ‘Oh, there are too many of those.’ When I let that instinct carry me from draft to draft, I found that each iteration was more cohesive and sounded fundamentally better onstage.”
Meghan Frey, Estes Park High School
- Class: Senior
- Teacher: Andrew Virdin
- Play title: Romeo and Julien
- Killer dialogue:
“We spend eight hours a day with these people for years, and yet we don’t really know each other. We all just show people what we want them to see, but they don’t know who we really are.”
- What did you learn from writing this play? “It taught me a lot about the struggles, oppression and fear that LGBT+ kids have to face in their daily lives. I am not part of the LGBT+ community, so I have never had to face these struggles, and I had never given it much thought before I wrote this play. After writing the play, I have a whole new perspective and appreciation for the things they have had to go through and overcome so that they can finally just be themselves.”
The Scenesters: The other 2019-20 Finalists
- Gone Forever, by Eliana Howes, Renaissance Secondary
- Human, by Angela Weddig, Peak to Peak Charter School
- Jolly Land, by Conrad Branch, Denver East High School
- Lil Jesus, by Ruby Brown and Olivia Kelley, Salida High School
- The Milkshake Bar, by Ellie Olsen, Arapahoe High School
- Plastic Tiara, by Omar Arevalo, John F. Kennedy High School
- The Stories We Tell, by Arianna Josue, Lakewood High School
The 2019-20 AT&T High School Playwriting Competition is sponsored by AT&T, Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.
Online video bonus: A look back at the 2018-19 Scenesters
In the video above, DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore speaks with Executive Director of Education Allison Watrous and the student playwrights whose works were selected to be read at the 2019 Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.